Hartwig Schafer, Vice President, South Asia Region, The World Bank visited the footwear microenterprises cluster at Bhairab in Kishoreganj today.
During the visit, he was accompanied by Dr Nomita Halder ndc, Managing Director, Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF); Mercy Miyang Tembon, Country Director, The World Bank; and Md Fazlul Kader, Additional Managing Director, PKSF and other representatives from the government, The World Bank and project-implementing partner organization of PKSF, states a press release.
Under the Sustainable Enterprise Project (SEP), co-financed by The World Bank, PKSF is supporting the footwear-producing microenterprise cluster in Bhairab where around 200,000 pairs of footwear are manufactured a day. Bhairab is home to more than 10,000 footwear microenterprises, employing over 120,000 people
Guised as an honorary micro-entrepreneur, Hartwig Schafer and the other member delegates visited SEP-supported footwear common service center to support the footwear-producing microenterprises in Bhairab. They talked to the service providers and have had been explained the services there. Later, they also talked to some of the SEP-supported micro-entrepreneurs.
In a discussion session that followed, PKSF Managing Director Dr Nomita Halder ndc made the welcome remarks. She said, 'in addition to inclusive financing, capacity building, technology transfer, value chain development, and other technical services are being provided to help the low-income people to get out from the vicious cycle of low productivity. Additionally, in all its project areas, PKSF ensures a safe environment for the female workers like what is done in the SEP.'
She also added, 'we made it flexible for the microentrepreneurs who suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because we want to eradicate poverty not only by lending money but also by creating employment opportunities. It is also very inspiring to see how a common service facility can be helpful to a business community that does not have much access to necessary modern technical support. Promoting a decent workplace, we want to ensure good business but also a sustainable business. Money alone cannot solve problems. It requires commitment and partnership as we have between The World Bank and PKSF.'
Appreciating the effort and enthusiasm of the female micro-entrepreneurs Mercy Miyang Tembon said, 'I am very happy to meet the women who are not only working for themselves but also employing other women. That is why SEP is very important. PKSF is doing a wonderful job as they are doing it all over the country.'
Expressing satisfaction at the SEP's role in sustainable expansion of the footwear-manufacturing microenterprises, Hartwig Schafer said, 'It is great to see what can be done when you empower communities and when you start small.
Fazlul Kader presented on the SEP's interventions with particular focus on the footwear-producing cluster.
To assist the microenterprises of Bangladesh in enhancing their marketing and brand development capacity and adopting environmentally sustainable practices, PKSF is implementing the SEP, jointly financed by PKSF and The World Bank with support from the government of Bangladesh.
The total budget of this five-year project is USD 130 million, of which the World Bank and PKSF will finance USD 110 million and USD 20 million respectively. To implement the project, the lead business clusters, based in the lead sub-sectors of the agribusiness and manufacturing sectors, are provided financial and technical support. A total of 64 sub-projects have been undertaken from 30 different sub-sectors under the project.
People's Oriented Program Implementation (POPI), a partner organization of PKSF, is implementing one of the sub-projects, titled 'Establishing Environmental Practices in Hazardous Footwear Microenterprises in Bhairab, Bangladesh' sub-project in Kishoreganj to support 1,100 microenterprises adopt environmentally sustainable practices at their businesses. Additionally, SEP also extends services like software-based footwear designs under footwear-making common service, cluster-based waste management, cluster-based WASH facilities, hand-made brand promotion, e-commerce branding.
Other members of the visiting delegation included Zahir Uddin Ahmed, Project Coordinator, SEP & Deputy General Manager, PKSF; Murshed Alam Sarker, Executive Director, People's Oriented Program Implementation (POPI); Eun Joo Allison Yi, Senior Environmental Specialist, SSAEN and TTL, SEP; Christian Berger, Senior Agriculture Economist, SSAA1, TTL MFSFP; Jacob Finnemann Viuff, Security Specialist, GCSGO.